Violence against girls and women (or VAGW) is rarely out of the news these days. A press release sent to RWF prompted me to an interview with Laura Southern who recently joined in a feminist demonstration holding up a placard declaring “There is no rape culture in the West”. She was attending a SlutWalk in Vancouver, an annual event when protesters demonstrate in their underwear about `slut-shaming’ and victim blaming over reported rapes. The young Canadian reporter and political science student is just one of a growing number of young women who foresee dangers in the tack of the anti-men movement taking a grip. Her point was that a generation of girls are being indoctrinated into thinking that wolf whistles and other flirtatious interaction are linked to `female oppression’ and must be banned. It was a brave but necessary counter. To link every bit of banter with violence is a dangerous path to tread. For one, it runs the risk of trivialising serious crimes and increasing false reporting. To read the full interview with Ella Whelan of Spiked-Online
The showy street demo of (victimised) half-naked chanting protesters in mini skirts puts Mona Eltahawy’s frank and graphic Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution into stark contrast by comparison. Her account makes chilling reading indeed. In her book she claims more than 90 per cent of women who have ever married in Egypt have had their genitals cut. Also that in the Yemen, girls as young as eight has been known to die on their wedding night to older men. For anyone who thinks that woman’s issues and feminism is passé this book is a wake-up call.
Somewhere the balance between what is the appropriate stance on gender relations is a challenge with a new urgency. Apparently the recent Tunisian constitution was the first in the Arab world to recognise female equality. This was brought into stark ironic focus this weekend with the horrific attacks on Western holidaymakers in Sousse. Women shot dead lying in bikinis beside their husbands and lovers is one of the most pathetic crimes of VAGW of them all.